Wednesday, November 13, 2019


It's not a parade without the police. No crowd control issues here, unlike the St. Patrick's Day parade, where alcohol flows like the Mississippi (well, metaphorically).  

The top picture has similarities to one that generated an eye blink's worth of photography fame a couple of years ago. The Museum of Modern Art in NY used one of my images of STL motorcycle cops in the catalog for a show about fashion. They didn't pay me a dime but at least they gave me a free copy of the book and a ticket when I showed up and demanded my tribute. Click here

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


The local Corvette owners club always shows up for the Veterans Day parade. A corvette, as such, is a small warship. This version may have some similarities, but for civilian guys with money to burn. Of course, they burn other things, too, in substantial quantity for their size. These days that raises ethical issues.

I myself am not without guilt. When I was 40 I had a used bottom-of-the-line Porsche, but still. One of the dumbest ideas I've ever had. If there was a half-inch of snow I'd have to ask for help getting out of parking lots. But when it was dry, well, that was a different matter. It didn't take me too long to work this out of my system and get another Volvo.        

Monday, November 11, 2019


After shooting at the Veterans Day parade I met the family at our repurposed Union Station for lunch and amusements. It has a new carousel, among other things. Ellie knows no fear as a rider as long as her steed is made from molded acrylic. She wasn't even wearing her cowgirl boots. 

I'll be going back and forth between Saturday's events for a while. First snow here predicted for today. That's very early.                     

Sunday, November 10, 2019


Back home. I got enough material on Saturday to last for some time. Our official Veterans Day is tomorrow but there is always a parade on the Saturday before the date. As usual, there were many more people marching than watching from the sidewalk. Some vets couldn't walk as a result of their service.

A couple of veterans asked me if I were one of them. I am not. In 1969, the US had a draft lottery for men of my age. Birth dates were drawn in random order. I drew a high number and, being a junior in college at that time, continued my education.


Friday, November 8, 2019


Still going through New York material until I can get back out on the streets of The Lou. Once again, this is from the greatly expanded Museum of Modern Art. It is Jeff Koons' Pink Panther. I'm sure I've seen this in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and maybe also at LACMA in Los Angeles. Koons' website says that there is an addition of three of these plus AP, whatever that means. It is made of porcelain so moving it would be a delicate operation. 

Koons' work often celebrates the banal, sometimes with a bit of provocation. The surfaces are shiny. You may or may not like his stuff but I do.        

Thursday, November 7, 2019


I think we have had enough of the parade for a while. There are lots more I could edit but it gets a little repetitive. Besides, my nighttime flash technique could use some improvement.

While in New York my friend Olivier and I visited the newly reopened Museum of Modern Art. It had been closed for a year while it ate up some neighboring properties and expanded. It is now much larger and a bit confusing to find your way around. This room, facing a large window, had several sections with comments on peace, perhaps wishful thinking. Here, Olivier is not studying the sutras but rather going over the museum guide.          

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


When I was standing in the middle of the NY Halloween parade my eye was drawn to the color on these women. I didn't immediately get the reference. My six year old granddaughter, Ellie, was sitting next to me when I was starting to flip through the photos. "Marge Simpson!" she exclaimed. "Patty and Selma!"

Except that patty and Selma usually have the same dull purple hair. And they always have cigarettes, not smart phones, in their hands. But okay, so I was just stood up on a cultural reference by a small child. Won't be the last time.

The surname of the never-married sisters and Marge's maiden name is Bouvier. Some may remember that it was Jacqueline Kennedy's maiden name. Deep.           

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


Yellow and blue. No particular reason. There is just so much inventory from the New York parade and I don't have new local material. By the way, that long blue tail in the second picture is a whip.           

Sunday, November 3, 2019


New York, a city of 8.4 million people, contains many immigrants. (And, of course had many emigrants, comme moi,)  Some of the marchers in the Halloween parade dressed in themes referring to places far away. Top: the man looks like a young Yadier Molina, the Cardinals great catcher, minus the tattoos. Bottom: some but not all of my readers will get the reference in the second photo. Actually, although the image felt familiar, I needed help from a younger family member. If you need a hint, click here.             

Saturday, November 2, 2019


I took hundreds of pictures Thursday night at New York's Halloween parade. It was a technical challenge. The only lighting was street lamps and, of course, the subjects were moving. Lots of shots were out of focus but many were real keepers. There are many, many more. Just keep posting them, I guess.    

Friday, November 1, 2019


Souvenir of my visit to New York. This is The Vessel, the multi story Escher-ish sculpture at the new Hudson Yards development in Manhattan. Thank heavens there is an elevator (vertical track in the center) or I would have never made it to the top. It is of limited use, though - just six people every 15 minutes. Olivier scampered all the way up.

Is bronze close enough for the theme?      


Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
                              - Claptrap by Sir Walter Scott

I love this place. It's just happenstance that I don't live here any more (not that I'm sorry about where I ended up). There are other big cities with high energy (Los Angeles, Tokyo) but none of them has the muscle, the scale, the sense of enormous possibility that New York has. If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere.

Olivier and I shot the NYC Halloween parade last night. Haven't seen so many people in such a confined area since, um, maybe Woodstock. Everyone was friendly and just out for a good time. There are so many more pictures. I fly home today and have to go straight to work but I certainly won't stay away from this place too long.

Thursday, October 31, 2019


It is very warm and damp here. The orange boat is the Staten Island Ferry. The background in the first picture is Jersey City, New Jersey, not New York.  The third photo is lower Manhattan shrouded in mist.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


Or so sang Paul Simon, a Queens boy like me, many years ago. I left for college in St. Louis 52 years ago but this is still the place where, metaphorically, I kiss the soil. There is some, you know, under the asphalt and concrete.

Top, the Empire State Building from 6th Avenue and about 43rd Street. Below, the police station in Times Square. There is a lot going on in that picture if you look carefully.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


We have a grand old railway station that, like so many in this country, fell into disuse and decay. There have been some attempts to resurrect it over the last couple of decades. The headhouse was converted into a grand hotel, which is apparently doing well. The large area under the train shed was filled by restaurants, a food court and quite a number of shops where I wouldn't spend money. All that failed. 

Now another developer is moving forward with a new plan. A big Ferris wheel, covered with colored LEDs at night, opened a few weeks ago. A fair sized aquarium will be ready by the end of the year. There is a lagoon that, on the half hour, has a music show punctuated by explosive fireballs. (I'll have a post about that some day.) There will be mini golf and I don't know what else. Hope this version makes it.

New York late this afternoon. If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere.         

Monday, October 28, 2019


Okay, I have not traveled every hill and dale in the metro area but this one is Old Reliable. And, no, I don't know what kind of tree it is. I'm a city kid. My education as an arborist is limited to this.

The tree is toward the eastern side of Forest Park, near Kingshighway. Autumn trees are very spotty here, with subtle dependence on temperature and rainfall. Some years all the leaves just turn brown and wither. But in others this whole grove is aflame. This one in particular, which gets full afternoon sun, never fails.

Sunday, October 27, 2019


Another St. Louis Halloween tradition I'd never heard of. My granddaughter's school has an annual event called Trunk Or Treat. Lots of the parents decorate the trunks of their cars, stock them full of goodies and set up around the perimeter of the parking lot with the back facing inward. The kids run from one to another, playing games and hoarding more sugar.

There was a steady cold rain last night so the event was held inside the school. I saw a new kind of costume, dinosaur suits with a battery operated fan in each side to keep it inflated. The boy in this one was particularly aggressive, challenging anything in his path. He ran up against my Artica friend Paul, whose sons go to the same school, dressed as an a knight in armor. No clear winner.            

Saturday, October 26, 2019


I am so sorry. As I was drafting this post there was something I just could not get out of my head:

So anyway, pretend knights jousting at the Renaissance Faire. Refreshingly, the blue knight is a woman.

Looks like it's going to be too wet to shoot our outdoors Halloween party tonight.         

Friday, October 25, 2019


Halloween is a much bigger deal in this country than when I was a child. We would put on something simple and home made, then mooch candy in a couple of the neighboring apartment buildings. Now it's elaborate and sometimes expensive costumes, parties everywhere, outdoor festivals and an increased amount of horror. I don't know if it's a St. Louis tradition, but kids here are expected to say a funny little riddle before they get their loot. (Ellie's favorite: Q Which monster is the best dancer? A The boogie man.) Never had that in Queens.

I'm sure the reason for the difference is commercialism. Anything you can promote to suck in some extra bucks. There is a heavily-promoted outdoor party in Maryland Plaza here tomorrow night, which I may shoot if it's not too cold and wet. Next week I'm meeting our colleague Olivier from Evry, France, on that little island where I was born. We are going to shoot the Halloween parade in New York's Greenwich Village. If it's not too cold and wet. I hear it's just nuts.

This photo is from the Renaissance Faire.               

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Lots of places in the US have what they call a Renaissance Faire. The conceit is that an area is supposed to be converted into a slice of 15th or 16th Century Europe. The one here is loosely based on our sister city relationship with Lyon, France.

But that all falls apart quickly. People dress up as faeries, pirates, elves, monsters or whatever suits their fancy. There are lots of shows and they don't necessarily have a thing to do with the Renaissance. This bunch of make believe Bravehearts call themselves Pictus, probably after the people who inhabited eastern and northern Scotland a long time ago. ( ). It's a bagpipe and drums with a pretend fierce attitude. For all I know they could be pussycats at home.

Have you ever listened to bagpipes for an extended period of time? I have. It is either A) an acquired taste or B) the road to madness.          

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Take a look at . How to characterize this? A road show, performance art with unlimited actors or psychological research? A group of artists built this thing that looks like a cartoon speech balloon. There is a video booth behind the curtain, in which visitors are asked to spend two minutes stating what truth means to them. It has gone around much of the world, visiting Afghanistan before St. Louis, where it stopped in front of the main branch of the public library.

It's a fascinating idea. You can see and hear many of the participants on its website. I gave it a shot, prattling on about the scientific method and the subjectivity of of consciousness. If you care to, give us your definition in a comment.                    

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Gentle reader, please interpret for yourself. That's the Paint Louis section of the flood wall along the Mississippi on the right and a railroad bridge across the river behind. My guess is that it's someone's nom de graffiti. However, it also reminds me of Two Buck Chuck, the nickname of super cheap wine sold across America under the Charles Shaw label at Trader Joe's food stores. I understand that with inflation, it's now $3.79 a bottle. Cheers!           

Monday, October 21, 2019


Our children's museum, The Magic House, has a Halloween event last weekend and next. Daughter Emily took this beautiful phone cam shot of Ellie in the garden. The kid knows how to pose, too.       

Sunday, October 20, 2019


As noted earlier, the Sunday night of Artica ends with the immolation of a wooden effigy, Our Lady of Artica. The central figure is essentially the same every year but the details and surroundings vary. I liked this year's version with the multiple arms/flags suggesting a Hindu deity and the halo-like structure surrounding all of it. 

These pix could be better. I was seated some distance away and didn't have a tripod. What was scary was that part way through the burn a gust of wind blew up from the northwest, sending a blast of fire toward the crowd on the right of the lower picture. The crew were all in professional fire protection suits and several members of the STL fire department were on hand. Still, I'm told that some of the audience had a wow, cool man attitude and didn't clear out quickly. Fortunately, no one was hurt.                             

Saturday, October 19, 2019


Artica takes place in an area of semi-abandoned commercial buildings north of the Arch. It's a bit desolate and no one much cares about graffiti. One of the Articans, Robert, I think, created this near the entrance gate. The the set of tools is complicated.                  

Friday, October 18, 2019



If you have been to Artica you know why the caption is a terrible pun. It is a Saturday - Sunday event. When it is fully dark on Sunday evening, the fire dancers come out to whip up the crowd. This is followed by a torch thrown at the wooden effigy of Our Lady of Artica. We will see some of the finale tomorrow.

I was lucky to get these photos. My back was bothering me, the field where the effigy was located was very rough and it was pitch black. There was a free lawn chair maybe 50 m away where I set myself up with an f 2.8 medium telephoto. Pretty hard to grab focus.